NUJ warning to private equity firms over Midlands quality

The National Union of Journalists has sent a letter to private equity groups rumoured to be backing a management buyout of Trinity Mirror’s Midlands operation, warning them not to damage the editorial quality of the papers.

The letter to Barclays Equity and Exponent, signed off by union organiser Chris Morley, demands assurances over job security and pensions for journalists working at the Birmingham Post & Mail, Coventry Newspapers and Midland Weekly Media.

According to the union four directors leading the deal plan to turn the flagship Birmingham Mail into an overnight printing operation meaning that the main body of the newspaper will be not be on sale until the following day.

Morley said: ‘Nobody at the Post & Mail will shed a tear over the exit of Trinity Mirror. But we don’t want our members to be pitched into an even more extreme cost-cutting regime which will damage their hard-fought reputation for journalistic quality and credibility.

‘At a time of unprecedented scrutiny of the private equity industry, it is vital the prospective buyers of Trinity Mirror’s Midlands operations give credible assurances on preserving quality and stick with formula that is clearly bringing success.

‘If they want to have a business to sell on at a decent price in the future, they cannot afford to take a slash and burn policy on businesses which are widely regarded within their communities in the West Midlands.”

In its letter the NUJ expressed its concern over the safety of journalists’ final salary pension scheme and the possibility of moving the Post & Mail from its city centre headquarters.

Earlier this month, Trinity Mirror sold 25 local newspapers in the south of England to Northcliffe Media for £64 million. Last week it sold Berkshire Regional Newspapers to the Dunfermline Press for £10 million.

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